Germs: A good thing for your baby?
June 8, 2010 (WPVI) -- I admit, for the first 7 months of Sienna's life... I was a germaphobe.
I kept one bottle of hand sanitizer in every room of the house. Sometimes the diaper bag would have two bottles, just in case I ran out of the stuff on the road.
Well, things changed a little bit when Sienna started crawling. OK, I was forced to change. It was now physically impossible for me to follow Sienna around with a squirt or two of sanitizer every time she touched something. Plus she was taking Gymboree classes with other kids and put her hands all over everything, and then into her mouth at least 10 times in a half hour.
I started reading a little bit about what to do because it was driving me crazy. Could you believe that there are many doctors out there that say exposure to germs and dirt could actually be good for the baby? Yes. And it makes sense... hand sanitizer wasn't around when I was a kid and I did just fine. Of course, I caught the occasional cold or flu but generally, I was a healthy child.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the prevalence of allergies has increased substantially in the past 15 years. But haven't we all gotten cleaner and more conscious of germs? Well many experts believe TOO MUCH cleanliness might be a contributing factor.
So I've learned to let Sienna be a baby. Yes, she is going to pick up a puff or cheerio from time to time that was on the floor and put it directly into her mouth. I have promised myself I will not try to grab it out and risk a temper tantrum. It's OK. It's really the only way she is going to build her immune system.
I read this CNN article that quoted Dr. Dennis Ownby, Chief of allergy and immunology at the Medical College of Georgia. He found that babies in households with multiple pets have fewer allergies at age 6 or 7 not just to animals, but also to ragweed, grass and dust mites.
Ownby also said studies of babies in day care have found that while they have more infections early, they have fewer allergies and less wheezing later.
Do I still wipe down the grocery cart before I let Sienna sit in it, yes. Do I still give her hands a good wash after interacting with other kids? Yes. But I don't chase her around DURING her playtime wiping her down. My philosophy is this. Be cautious but not compulsive. Kids are more resilient than we think!
You can read the entire CNN article here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/conditions/04/05/cohen.allergies/index.html
erin o'hearn parenting reports, parenting, erin o'hearn
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